I Chose My 'Own Path'

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses upcoming by-elections, the role of journalists in Burma, and her personal history.
2011-11-14
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Q:  You have been released from detention, and we see that you are working for the country. You are like a little bird that has been released from her cage, but I see that you have been released with a string tied to your foot. Any day, at any time, this string could be pulled and jerk you back into the cage. I am suspicious and concerned for you.

A:  Since I first became involved in politics, I have been the kind of person who has chosen her own path to walk on, so I did not feel that I was locked up or imprisoned even while I was kept under house arrest. And now, too, I concentrate only on doing my very best on the things that need to be done. I do not think about whether somebody will tie a string to me and pull me back. In whatever situation I am in, if I can carry out my duties with a clear conscience, I will feel that I am a free person.

Q:  I live in Rangoon. With regard to what I have been hearing around town, I would like to know whether the NLD will participate in elections after it registers with the Election Commission. If not, I would like to know under what conditions you would decide to participate.

A:  The National League for Democracy will decide whether or not to register only after amendments to the law relating to the registration of political parties have been officially announced. We have also heard that according to the amendments, political parties registering must have at least three candidates competing in the upcoming by-elections. So, at the same time that a decision is made with regard to registration, a decision must also be made with regard to the by-elections.

Q:  We have heard that in recent days the Thai government raised the price of the rice they have been buying from farmers by 50 percent in consideration of the farmers’ welfare. The price of Thai rice in the world market rose because of that action, but the welfare of the Thai farmers was greatly enhanced. There has never been an action like this in our country. Do you think that the government should do such things for the farmers in Burma as well?

A:  It is very important to make the lives of farmers comfortable in countries where the economy is based on agriculture. In our country as well, the government should carefully plan projects and implement them so that the living standards of the farmers and rural people are raised. Conditions in different countries are not the same, though, so although lessons can be learned from what other countries have done, it may not be appropriate to duplicate them exactly.

Q:  As a freelance journalist, I have encountered huge risks in some places. For example, if freelance journalists come face to face with the authorities or with particular organizations, and if something goes wrong, they can end up in situations with no protection. This shows the need for a law, and for organizations, to protect freelance journalists. Could you advise and help us in this matter?

A:  There should be a journalists’ association in Burma. If there were such an association or union, it would be of great help to journalists like you. I will discuss this matter with my journalist friends.

Q:  A lot of people want to know about your political experiences in detail. Do you have any plans to write your personal history? Is there something that is already written? Also, I have seen in journals published domestically pictures of the dog that you have as a pet. Did you buy that little dog, or did someone give it to you as a present? What is that dog’s name, and does it understand you well? I ask these questions because I just adore dogs.

A: At this time, I have no plans to write my autobiography, but I have been thinking it might be useful to outline my political journey from a historical perspective. I adore dogs, as well. My dog’s name is Tachito, and he was given to me as a present by my younger son. The dog is a kind of watchdog, so he has a bit of an aggressive nature. Many people see him as a naughty little dog, but to me he is very loveable. He has no pretensions, will do whatever he wants, and is a very transparent animal. Thank you for asking such a pleasant question!

Broadcast on Nov. 4, 2011.